Losing Arizona: Is Rep. Mark Finchem an Insurrectionist?

Morgaine Ford-Workman/The Copper Courier

By Bree Burkitt

February 23, 2021

This is part of a series from The Copper Courier highlighting the Arizona legislators involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection or the events leading up to it. Read the rest here.

Mark Finchem is a former police officer and firefighter-paramedic originally from Michigan. He later relocated to the Oro Valley area, where he works as a realtor. He was first elected to represent District 11 in 2014.

Contributions to the Insurrection

Finchem publicly advocated for the overturning of the US election and was one of the few Arizona lawmakers actually in Washington, D.C. on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection. 

He repeatedly argued that the US Constitution gives lawmakers the power to determine who gets the state’s electoral votes.

After the legislature ignored the efforts of Finchem and others to call a hearing on the election, Finchem organized an unofficial November daylong hearing at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix where Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis continuously made unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in Arizona’s election.

Finchem is the only known Arizona state legislator present at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

While the Capitol was under siege, he posted a picture of the crowd on Twitter along with the message, “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”

The tweet and Finchem’s account have since been deleted.

Finchem was originally there to speak at the rally and deliver a letter to then-Vice President Mike Pence and meet with members of Congress. He didn’t end up speaking and claims he did not participate in the riot, did not enter the Capitol building, wasn’t involved in directing the crowd, and left the area before witnessing any violence.

In the days since, he has defended the mob and repeatedly cited debunked conspiracy theories, including claims that antifa was responsible for the breach and violence, in his newsletter.

“What about the claims that the crow[d] was a mob? Were they loud? Yes. Were they hostile? No. Did they attack the police? No, in fact I heard many [protesters] say ‘thank you,’ and ‘bless you’ as they walked by officers,” Finchem wrote in his Jan. 10 newsletter. 

Due to his public support, numerous organizations and multiple lawmakers from both parties have called for Finchem to be expelled by the state Legislature.

Finchem signed on to a letter to Congress asking them to accept 11 “alternate” electoral votes for Trump or to have all of the state’s electoral votes “nullified completely until a full forensic audit can be conducted.”

In the weeks since the insurrection, Finchem’s text messages reportedly show him coordinating with Ali Alexander, a prominent conservative activist who openly admitted to organizing the event preceding the riot. 

It’s not clear whether Finchem actually assisted with organizing the event or was simply planning to speak. It’s also not clear how close Finchem was when rioters stormed the Capitol. He maintained that he didn’t participate, but was close enough to see what was happening.

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign’s financial disclosure showed Finchem’s business entity received $6,000 from Trump for assisting in efforts to overturn Arizona’s election results. 

The Arizona Republic reported that Finchem claimed the payment was a reimbursement for “crowd control and security costs” for the Giuliani meeting.

Finchem was ultimately cleared of 82 additional ethics complaints filed against him in centering around the events at the Capitol following a review by the House Ethics Committee.

He later filed his own ethics complaint against the Democratic legislators who signed a letter asking the FBI and Department of Justice to look into Finchem’s activities at the Capitol. Finchem accused them of conspiring to punish him for exercising his First Amendment rights.

His claim was also dismissed.

How You May Have Heard of Them

Finchem is openly a member of multiple extremist organizations, including the far-right, anti-government group known as the Oath Keepers, and the Coalition of Western States, which supported the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. 

Denzel Boyd/The Copper Courier

In 2017, Finchem described the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville as a “Deep State PSYOP”—a military term for psychological operations frequently used by conspiracy theorists—carried out by Democrats and the media. He also repeated a baseless far-right conspiracy theory in describing the Ku Klux Klan as “an organization that has been with the Democrats since it was formed up during the post-civil war reconstruction period.”

He’s also sponsored legislation that would transfer federal land to state governments, which would have serious repercussions for the environment and wildlife. 

Finchem is up for re-election in 2022.

Finchem isn’t alone. See the others who played a role in the insurrection.

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